Dogs and cats high-five as Jock Jones announces retirement
DOGS and cats across Moree Plains Shire heaved a collective sigh of relief this week, with the news that well-known local ranger Jock Jones plans to retire in the New Year.
Jock, 73, has been the local ranger for the past 20 years, but will hang up the leash and collar after Christmas to enjoy retirement.
“The time has come, I suppose. I’m not getting any younger and the old legs aren’t what they used to be,” Jock smiled.
“I’ll stick around over Christmas and New Year, so it might not be until around early February that I actually finish up.
“I’ve seen quite a few strange sights during my 20 years as ranger and I’ve dealt with a variety of animals, not just dogs and cats.
“There have been a lot of funny moments, but a lot of sad times as well – I could write a book,” he said.
Just recently, Jock rescued a crabby koala bear that had found itself lost in downtown Moree late at night.
“That was the first koala I’ve seen in Balo Street, but I generally get about one or two a year that have lost their way and found themselves in town,” he said.
Jock has a large shire to cover – one of the largest in NSW – and he gets much-appreciated help from contract rangers who are called in during peak times.
Apart from the Moree township Jock’s patch covers Mungindi to the north-west, Gurley to the south, Boggabilla and Toomelah to the north, Pallamallawa and Biniguy to the east, and 100km westward to where the highway crosses the Mehi River just this side of Collarenebri – and all rural landholdings and smaller villages in between.
“It’s a big area with a lot of square kilometres to cover – nearly 18,000 of them,” Jock said.
And it’s not just dogs and cats that have been Jock’s lot in life.
He has over the past two decades dealt with cattle, horses, sheep, birds, snakes – he’s a qualified snake-catcher – and even bats.
“I’ve often been called out to properties to unhook bats and flying foxes from fences,” he said.
Moree mayor Katrina Humphries said that while Jock’s retirement was well-earned, he will be sorely missed around the shire.
“Jock has been a familiar face around town for many years,” Cr Humphries said.
“His retirement will be a loss not only to council but also the community, and we wish him well.
“Many people well remember the amazing job that Jock did through the big floods not that long ago and there are many residents, particularly in the north of the shire that will always be grateful for the animals and birds that he transported to safety during those terrible events,” she said.
Meanwhile, Jock says a rumoured revolution by wandering pooches and nomadic felines to reclaim the streets of Moree will be short-lived, with contract rangers stepping in to fill the breach until new, full-time rangers are employed.
“The position will be advertised so it’s just a matter of time until the right people come along to take on the role,” Jock said.
“In the meantime, the relief rangers will do a great job, as they always do when called in to help out.”
More than 20 years in the pound-keeping game has supplied plenty of mirthful moments, including the story of one lady who wanted Jock to do something – and pronto – about an army of bull-ants that had invaded her property.
Sadly, however, there is also a downside, especially during the festive season.
“From December through to January is traditionally a very busy time in our line of work,” Jock said.
“During December many dogs and cats are dumped at the pound because their owners simply don’t want them over the holiday period while they are away, but you can bet your bottom dollar that they will find a new pet once they’re back from holidays and back to their normal routine.
“People also get unwanted pets as Christmas presents and so often these pets are dumped at the pound as well.
“I strongly urge everyone to really think it through before buying kittens or puppies as Christmas presents for loved ones,” Jock said.
So what exactly did Jock do when an army of bull-ants marched en masse across a concerned resident’s fence-line?
“I asked the lady if I should round them up and take them back to the pound, maybe even check to see if they were all microchipped . . . and she replied: ‘yes, that would be a good idea’,” he laughed.
Words and Image Copyright Bill Poulos, 2016